Big Games are back in Raymond James Stadium! For the first time in recent memory the stakes are high and the lights are bright. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers battle the New Orleans Saints on Sunday Night Football. At 8:20 pm toe will hit leather in one of the biggest games in the NFL to date. Not only does the game have major implications for who will win the division, but also in the NFC Standings.
Division on the Line
Sunday’s game can have major implications on how the NFC South will turn out. The Buccaneers sail into to Sunday’s game in sole possession of 1st place in the division at 6-2. The only reason for this, is that the Bucs have not had their Bye-week yet and have therefore, played an extra game. If the Saints were to win, they would tie Tampa’s record, but would hold the tie breaker with a series sweep. This would mean the Buccaneers would have to have an outright better record to win the division. If Tampa wins, this would tie the series at 1-1. With this result it would still be possible for the Bucs to win the division with a record equal to that of New Orleans. Carolina and Atlanta both seem to be non-factors at this point. However, the Panthers would be the only other team to potentially challenge for the division as the Falcons sit at 2-6.
Big for the Conference
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could sit at the top of the NFC playoff picture if they were to win Sunday’s game against New Orleans. A win would push their record to 7-2. A Bucs win and a Seattle loss would send the Bucs into 1st. The Seattle Seahawks have a very tough gam in Buffalo against the Bills Sunday. If New Orleans were to win, it would propel them from 5th to 2nd. It could potentially drop the Bucs as low as 6th in the NFC. This big game has big stakes.
Its no secret that Tampa’s offense is one of the best in the NFL. They rank 4th in total touchdowns. They rank 8th in passing yards, and 14th in yards per game. The Saints rank 15th in passing yards, and 12th in total TDs. However, New Orleans ranks 10th in YPG. The main area where the Saints out-perform the Bucs is the run-game. Tampa Bay averages around 120 rush yards per game. New Orleans has averaged around 118. This however has been with a dinged up Alvin Kamara who is a pivotal part of their run game. If the Buccaneers can get a effective ground game going, look for there passing attack to be even more lethal.
The edge on the defensive is also slim. The Bucs rank 20th in total pass yards allowed and 2nd in rush yards allowed. The saints rank 9th in pass yards and 3rd in rush yards conceded. However, with the addition of Antonio Brown, the pass attack will be even more dynamic than before. Not to mention that the first meeting between these two teams was on opening day. If the Bucs can get pressure on Drew Brees and continue to control the run game look for Tampa Bay to have a good chance at coming away victorious.
Keys to the Game
- Good Start: Tampa Bay’s offense was AWOL for most of the 1st half on Monday. It will be crucial for the offense to get started right away. If not, the risk falling behind by more than they can get back.
- QB Pressure: In Monday’s game against New York, both Tampa turnovers were caused by the pass rush. Brees is not the most mobile of QBs so getting consistent pressure could be key to causing turnovers. If they can win the turnover battle, the Buccaneers will have a good shot of sitting atop the NFC.
- Run the Ball: The Bucs’ passing attack is one of the best around. If they can force the Saints to push people up in the box to stop the run, look for Tampa Bay to go over the top with the passing game.
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